The son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos is still the favourite, but outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo is hoping for a last-minute comeback. The legacy of the Marcos dictatorship and the role played once again by social media are central campaign issues.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Some 65 million eligible voters will go to the polls next Monday (9 May) to elect the Philippines’ next president, vice president, Members of the Philippine Congress (House of Representatives and half of the Senate), as well as provincial and local officials.
Polling stations will be open from 6 am to 7 pm (local time) with the possibility of extending the closing time if there are long queues.
Under the constitution, the incumbent president, Rodrigo Duterte, cannot be re-elected.
Although he has not publicly expressed a preference for any candidate, his daughter Sara is running for vice president in conjunction with the campaign’s favourite, the son and namesake of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, known in the country by the nickname Bongbong.
Ten people are running for president, but polls put Marcos and the outgoing vice president, Leni Robredo, way ahead of all the others.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late former dictator, has been leading the polls for months. In the latest survey (mid-April) by Pulse Asia, his support stood at 56 per cent against 23 per cent for Robredo. The latter, a human rights activist, still hopes to make a last-minute comeback thanks to a grassroots campaign and support from some celebrities.
The two other closest candidates are Manny Pacquiao, a former boxing champion, and Manila Mayor Iso Moreno, who are pulling in 7 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.
The legacy of Marcos senior remains one of the central themes of the election campaign. The late dictator ruled the country from 1965 to 1986, during which he ruled under martial law for almost a decade, arresting, torturing and killing thousands of political opponents.
A government commission is still trying to recover billions of dollars stolen by the Marcos family from the state coffers.
Even social media have come in for close scrutiny after some websites began describing the period of martial law as a "golden age" so as to influence younger generations, mixing real facts with fake and invented news.
With 55 per cent of voters' support, Sara Duterte is favoured for the post of vice president, followed by Senator Tito Sotto and Robredo's ally Francis Pangilinan, who are polling 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
Sara Duterte, who is the current mayor of the city of Davao, initially planned to run for the presidency, but then decided to let Marcos go ahead in order consolidate the power of the two families.
Senate elections will also be dominated by well-known faces and names in Philippine politics, including former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (brother of incumbent Senator Pia Cayetano), former Public Works Secretary under Duterte Mark Villar (son of Senator Cynthia Villar) and former Vice President Jejomar Binay (father of Senator Nancy Binay).